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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

First Edition Cycling News for April 30, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Cipollini says ciao, but not goodbye

Mario Cipollini says ciao
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

Mario Cipollini, the Italian superstar sprinter who has 189 victories to his credit and nicknames to match, brought an end to his 16-plus year professional career earlier this week. At a press conference on Friday in Milan, Italy, Cipollini explained the reasons for his retirement.

"I didn't feel up to my usual standard," said SuperMario. "Two months ago I gave my best to win Milan-Sanremo and in the same day I understood that it was time to admit my limits. My mind was still competitive, but I didn't have the legs. I'm really sorry not to take part in the Giro d'Italia, but I think that it's not right to betray the expectations of the supporters, of Liquigas-Bianchi...and, of course, my expectations. I have the winner's attitude and I can't play a secondary role. This decision, even if painful, is like a relief for me: it was getting more and more oppressive because I wanted to be what I'm not any longer."

Cipollini said that he knew it was over while he was training for the Giro in the last few weeks. "My natural character is to dominate my rivals and when I realised I couldn't do that anymore I realised it was time to stop."

A top athlete's career cannot last forever, and during his reign as the sport's number one sprinter, Cipollini has accumulated a palmares that most professionals can only dream of. Included in his 189 victories are a World Championship, Milan-San Remo, three Gent-Wevelgems, a record 42 stage wins in the Giro d'Italia, 12 stages in the Tour de France, including four in a row in 1999, and three stages in the Vuelta a España, all in 2002. His last victory was in the Giro Della Provincia Di Lucca on March 7 this year.

"38 is quite old for a cyclist, and especially for a sprinter like me, but I have no regrets that I have been going this long. I have won much more than I ever expected when I started cycling as a little boy," added Cipollini.

Although losing his team's biggest name rider, Liquigas Sport's president Paolo Dal Lago accepted Cipollini's decision. "We appreciate Cipollini's correctness and professionalism. When Mario says he is not up to it, he is not speaking about opponents, but about himself. There are other athletes who end their careers taking things easy. Such a great champion can't stand to ride if he is not sure of being competitive. We are going to cooperate again because we have the same winning spirit."

Dal Lago and Cipollini
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

The team's managing director, Roberto Amadio, added, "We have to respect Cipollini's decision. Mario has worked very hard, not only for himself but also putting his experience at the team's disposal."

Now that he has finished his career, Cipollini said that he would remain in the sport, but he doesn't know in what capacity yet. "I have no idea what I'll do now and I'm going to take a break before deciding my future. I'd like to stay in cycling in some way because I've got a lot of experience and think it can be used for the benefit of young people and for the riders in the sport. One thing for sure is that I'll always ride my bike, I even went for a ride yesterday. I'm passionate about cycling and will keep riding to stop myself getting fat."

Armstrong invited to Paris-Dakar

Lance Armstrong has been invited by rally driver Robbie Gordon to take part in next year's Paris-Dakar desert rally, according to an interview in Velo magazine. "He offered me the chance to sit behind the wheel of the third car in Paris-Dakar. It's ridiculous. I get crazy offers like this regularly."

But Armstrong didn't rule it out altogether. "I work for Discovery and we are busy with a number of ideas to film. This would also be interesting."

Illes Balears for Giro

The Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne team has been selected for the Giro d'Italia with the following riders: Joan Horrach, Vicente Reynés, Toni Tauler, David Navas, José Luis Carrasco, Unai Osa, Vladimir Karpets, Sergi Escobar and Isaac Gálvez. Team directors: Eusebio Unzúe and Alfonso Galilea.

Peace Race cancelled

This year's Peace Race, scheduled for May 14-22, will not take place for the first time since 1948. The 58th edition was cancelled due to financial reasons, Czech Cycling Federation confirmed on Friday. It is hoped that the race will be back on again next year.

De Vocht continues with Lotto

23 year-old Belgian Wim De Vocht has assured his future for the next three years, signing a contract with Davitamon-Lotto to that effect. De Vocht was a key member of the team in the spring classics, and the team expects him to grow in the coming years under leader Peter van Petegem and mentor Herman Frison.

Head sponsor Omega Pharma is also looking at the development of Belgian cycling in the future, and has plans to create a Walloon continental team in 2006 to join Bodysol-Win for Life-Jong Vlaanderen, and amateur teams Davitamon-Lotto-VC Ardennes and Bodysol-Lotto-CT Menen in supporting young riders.

Winn the Millennium Champion back in the FBD Insurance Ras

By Tommy Campbell, Irish Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday Independent

Julian Winn, the FBD Milk Ras Millennium winner in 2000, is back again on Irish soil. He will lead a strong Wales Stena Line team in this year's FBD Insurance RÁS, which takes place next month. Following his decisive victory in 2000, Winn joined the professional ranks with Italian team Fakta, winning the Grand Prix Villers-Cotterêts and notching up an impressive performance in the Giro d'Italia. He also won the British national Road Race Championship in 2002.

In trying to repeat his 2000 victory Winn has the backing of a blend of youthful enthusiasm in Robert Partridge and Lewys Hobbs, while the experienced Jamie Norfolk and Paul Sheppard will not be found wanting when the vital splits occur.

Julian's sponsor, Stena Line, has a long association with the RÁS and is the official maritime carrier for the eight day race, being responsible each year for the massive task of bringing teams from Scandinavia, Britain and continental Europe. Mr. Eamonn Hewitt, Communications & PR Manager for Stena Line's Irish Sea Organisation, said, "Stena Line is delighted to support the FBD Insurance RÁS again this year...We are particularly delighted to have the Welsh National Team on board as three of our routes operate between Ireland and Wales so the synergy is obvious."

Tour of Ulster: McCann in at the last minute

David McCann, the Belfast, Ireland based professional cyclist, has been accepted as a last minute entry into this weekend’s Tour of Ulster, which starts Saturday at Craigavon Lakes at 11.45. David was abroad, riding with his professional squad, Team Giant Asia, when the entry forms were in circulation, but he contacted the organisers on his return, and has now emerged to get a place almost at the last minute.

McCann competes as an individual entry, against some of the top Irish teams, but given his past successes - twice an Irish Champion, FBD Milk Ras winner, and this year second in the Tour of Siam, fourth in the Tour of Iran, and last Sunday, best of the Irish in the Shay Elliott Memorial 100 mile Classic - his addition to the start list will be a major interest and matter of concern to the other main hopefuls.

Englishman finishes round-the-world record attempt

24 year-old Englishman Phil White is hoping to claim his place in the Guinness Book of Records after finishing an epic 10 month round-the-world cycle ride. Phil, a 2003 Bath University School of Management graduate, has ridden more than 18,000 miles (29,870 km) in a bid to be the first person to cycle the world according to Guinness World Record rules. Although others have ridden around the world, no-one has managed to meet Guinness rules which say that the rider must cycle at least 18,000 miles (28,970 km) during a total journey of 24,900 miles (40,075 km).

Phil's adventure has taken him through deserts, jungles and mountain peaks across 26 countries including Iran, Australia, China and America. Each location has provided its own perils, both mental and physical. Extreme heat, frequent downpours, strong winds, unsanitary conditions, mountains, enormous distances between settlements, and even bandits have tested Phil to the limit of his endurance. He also raised £67,000 for Oxfam.

Arriving back into London's Trafalgar Square on Sunday April 24, among the cheers of friends, family, and well-wishers, Phil leapt from his bike and threw it to the ground, saying, "I've been looking forward to this moment for months; I'm so pleased to be back in England. I've been literally exhausted for the last 10 months."

Among the well-wishers cheering Phil across the finish line was Sir Cliff Richard, a family friend, who said of Phil's adventure, "I think it's fantastic that a young person has given up that much of their life, 10 months, to cycle around the planet. To him it will mean a great deal; you cannot go through that arduous task without learning something. This journey will help him both physically and mentally."

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